A journalist who was questioned under caution by police investigating alleged leaks from inside Scotland Yard’s phone hacking investigation will not face criminal charges.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced yesterday there was insufficient evidence to bring Amelia Hill, a reporter for The Guardian, and an unnamed Metropolitan Police detective to trial over claims that confidential information about the identities of people arrested on suspicion of voicemail interception was leaked from inside the investigation.
The decision to formally question Ms Hill, 37, who has written extensively on phone hacking by the News of the World, raised concern that contact between reporters and confidential police sources was being criminalised. There was no suggestion that money was passed between the journalist and her source to obtain information.
Alison Levitt QC, principal legal advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The information disclosed by the police officer, although confidential, was not highly sensitive. It did not expose anyone to a risk of injury or death. It did not compromise the investigation.”
The CPS said it was satisfied that between April and August last year, Ms Hill had written ten articles containing confidential information provided by the 51-year-old detective while he was working on Operation Weeting, the Yard’s ongoing inquiry into the phone hacking scandal.
But Ms Levitt said there was not enough evidence to bring a charges against the pair relating to misconduct in a public office. She added that although there was sufficient evidence to prosecute both individuals for a data protection offence, it was not in the public interest to do so in either case but that the Yard should consider disciplinary proceedings against the detective.
In a statement, Ms Hill said the nine-month investigation into her work was a “completely disproportionate response by the police, and a sinister attempt to chill public interest journalism”.